Sears is Coming Through

Good ol’ Sears is restoring my faith in humanity after all. They phoned yesterday to tell me they would replace the washing machine Sandra and I have been doing without for the past three weeks.

The only catch is that we will be responsible for “disposing” of the old machine. (If you want a dead Kenmore front-loader, you can come and pick it up. Yes, of course I’m kidding!)

A customer service rep told me to check out model GFW490RSKWW on the GE web site.  If I like it, she said, they would have one here in “three to five” business days.

The way I figure it, that works out to Wednesday at the earliest, Friday at the latest.

I looked up the model and it’s pictured at right. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Do you?

I told the customer service folks that a wash tub and scrubbing board would be better than what we have now, and at this point the GE machine looks simply grand.

So it seems the saga of the Sears appliance protection plan might have a happy ending and I might get some clean clothes to wear at long last. I was beginning to think I would have to go around naked (and, trust me, that would not comply with our golf club’s dress code).


What Mueller Will Find


I’m sure you aren’t surprised by news that Trump is planning to fire special investigator Robert Mueller. Or that he is exploring the possibility of pardoning himself and his family.

If you’ve ever Googled Trump, you know he has a shady past. He even paid a fine for money laundering.

His financial history is – to put it kindly – checkered. And his association with American mobsters and Russian “oligarchs” is no secret.

Mueller is a sharp investigator and he has a highly skilled team. He won’t miss the glaring signs of inappropriate activity that are sure to surface in his inquiries.

By investigating the possibility of pardoning himself, Trump is admitting he will need a pardon. Innocent people don’t need pardons. Guilty people do.

Mueller will at least unearth enough dirt to make Trump panic.

What will happen then is anyone’s guess. I don’t doubt that Trump will get rid of the special investigator. That’s what Nixon did. Remember?

It was what triggered Nixon’s downfall.

But this is not Watergate. Then, Democrats controlled Congress. Now, Republicans rule both chambers. And the craven Republican politicians have displayed little taste for standing up to Trump.

Even if the politicians finally decide they’ve had more than they can stand, Trump’s base hasn’t.

And that base is ugly enough to do anything.  I wouldn’t even rule out the likelihood of armed resistance if Congress tries to dump Trump.

These are dangerous times indeed.

More on the Mueller investigation

Trump’s money laundering fine

More on money laundering

Trump, oligarchs and mobsters

More on Trump and the mob


This is Unbelievable

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know I was expecting to have a working washing machine today. I guess I should have known better.

DLS Appliance Experts finally sent a technician to install a new control board today. And he spent more than an hour tinkering with our ailing washing machine. But he couldn’t get it to work.

He muttered something about the machine having not one but two control boards, and I gathered both control boards miraculously went out at the same time. So what happens now?

The technician didn’t say. He packed up his paraphernalia and drove away.

I called Maria at DLS and she couldn’t enlighten me. She said she had to get a report from the technician and that wouldn’t be possible until tomorrow.

I called Sears and they said they would authorize another service call. When that might occur they could not hazard a guess.

It’s been three weeks since I reported the dead washing machine to the Sears home appliance protection people. Does this mean we have three more weeks – or more – to wait?

Will we ever get he washing machine fixed?

The laundry room is overflowing with clothes waiting to be washed. And it seems there’s nothing I can do to get our washing machine repaired.

Wll I eventually have to throw in the towel and buy a new machine?

Have I been scammed?


A Scam? Or Incompetence?

If you give Sears the benefit of the doubt, you will probably conclude they aren’t actually running a scam with their home appliance protection plan. You will just call them grossly incompetent.

After three grueling weeks of nagging, I may finally be getting our washing machine fixed after all. On my third phone inquiry yesterday, DLS Appliance Experts (the company Sears had assigned to fix our washing machine) said they’d found the missing control board.

Someone named Maria said it was in their mail box.

On my previous calls, Maria had insisted DLS hadn’t received the part. She said they were “opening all the boxes” in their shop to see if they could find it.

Someone at Sears had told me – finally after dozens of calls – that they had sent the part and that DLS had received it on Saturday.

Oddly, DLS is closed on weekends so there was nobody there on Saturday to “receive” the part.

You will remember that I reported the dead washing machine on June 30. DLS sent a technician to check it out on July 5.  Sears “estimated” the part would be at DLS onJuly 12.

Nobody has been able to tell me why it wasn’t.

I must have made a hundred phone calls to find out about that missing part. I have never been subjected to such a runaround in my 83 years on this planet. I even sent Monday’s blog to Sears in a futile effort to get some answers.

Anyway, Maria at DLS promised me a technician will come and fix our washing machine on Thursday. That’s tomorrow.

So perhaps – just perhaps – our weeks of waiting may be coming to an end.

I still can’t help wondering if Sears was trying to make me give up and just buy a new washing machine.  If not, then it’s no wonder the company is in trouble. They have to be among the most incompetent outfits in history.

More on Sears


Snobbery on the Links

The LPGA has imposed a new dress code that reeks of Victorian-era sexism and exposes the lingering snobbery in golf.

You might think that in the 21st century athletes could wear whatever they need in order to play their best. If they are bothered by a collar, for example, you might think they could just lose it (as Michelle Wie is doing in the accompanying photo).

But, according to a news item quoting Golf Digest Magazine:

LPGA Player President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman sent out an email to golfers on July 2 informing them that the dress code would be changing as of Monday, July 17. Goetze-Ackerman ticked off the items the women would no longer be able to wear on the green, including plunging necklines, joggers, leggings by themselves (they can be worn under shorts or skirts), and racerback tops without collars. “No collar = no racerback,” is the parenthetical used in the email.

According to the news item, the email adds (insultingly, in my opinion):

Skirts, skorts, and shorts must now be “long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over.”

Obviously, the LPGA player president hasn’t watched tennis lately.  Women who play professional tennis don’t let outmoded prudery cramp their style. And I don’t think any normal person – male or female –  entertains prurient thoughts while watching those pros display their incredible skill.

Of course, England is still… well… English.

According to the news item:

Last week, Wimbledon enforced its all-white dress code so strictly that the tournament made a male tennis player Jurij Rodionov change his blue underwear.

The new LPGA dress code is even sillier. It even bans jeans.

I rarely wear jeans but I resigned from a golf club in Canada once when they banned jeans on the course. And – while I usually wear a collared shirt – any club that tells me I have to wear a collar isn’t going to get my greens fees.

Golf is in enough trouble without the addition of silly dress codes. There are no stars, just a lot of golfers who can hit the ball 300 yards or more off the tee. And yes, the women can hit their drives that far nowadays. Without a collar. And in jeans. Or joggers (whatever those are).

In the men’s game, there’s nobody like Tiger. Or Jack. Or Palmer, Trevino and Player. Those golfers were virtuoso performers. You marveled at their finesse. And their consistency.

The women’s game is suffering from the absence of American stars. Nearly all of today’s best LPGA performers are from Asia. I suppose that does a lot for the game’s popularity overseas, but it doesn’t do much to win fans at home.

TV audiences are dwindling. And the public is abandoning recreational golf.  It’s not just that Tiger is missing. It’s also the game’s stuffy image that turns off today’s youngsters.

The last thing the sport needs now is a snobby dress code.

Read the news item


Is This a Scam?

I find it hard to believe that Sears is operating a scam, but what else am I to think after my current experience with their home appliance protection plan?

Some time ago, our stove went out and when I called Sears to get it fixed they talked me into buying an appliance protection plan. Under the plan, I would pay $49 a month and $75 for each service call.

It sounded like a fair deal, and – as we have been buying stuff at Sears for decades – I said OK. They’ve charged my credit card monthly ever since.

So when our washing machine went dead about  three weeks ago, I called Sears. I thought they would send someone over to fix it right away.

I was wrong.

Sears assigned a company in Kissimmee – DLS Appliance Experts they call themselves – to check out the washing machine.

DLS took several days to send someone and when he managed to get here, he said the control board was dead and it would be another four days before a new part would arrive.

Now, two weeks later, no part has appeared, and we still have no machine to wash our clothes. Sandra has been washing the things we desperately need in a tub – the way past generations used to do. And I have been making a lot of irate phone calls.

When I phone DLS they say the part has not arrived. And when I phone Sears, they say DLS should have received the part on July 12. Each time I call, someone at Sears promises to track the order but nobody ever calls me back.

When I phone Sears, I get transferred round and round and nobody can tell me when our  washing machine is going to be fixed.

Are they waiting for me to give up and buy another machine?

Should I cancel the appliance protection agreement and ask Sears to return my monthly subscription fees and the $75 I paid DLS?

Is there a consumer protection agency that might be able to help me?

Should I call the cops?

Can anyone offer any advice or explain what on earth is going on?


Messing with Mother Nature

There’s poetic justice in the news that Trump’s favorite Florida hangout is going to be submerged by rising sea levels. The National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says global warming is flooding South Florida’s coastline and it will grow a lot worse in coming years.That includes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort (above), where he spends most of his free time.

The posh Palm Beach resort is not only Trump’s favorite retreat but also a profit center for his family business. When Trump became president, the resort doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.

Mar-a-Lago – and the roads and bridges accessing it – already experience flooding, especially during storms and high tides. It’s only a matter of time before the property is under a foot or more of sea water.

I can’t wait to hear Trump explain how it isn’t global warming that’s at work as he wades through his flooded Florida retreat.

Scientists predict rising sea levels caused by global warming will inundate thousands of acres along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Florida Keys and the Florida Gulf Coast.

Several South Florida cities are already taking steps to deal with the threat of rising sea levels. Miami and Titusville, for example, have installed special pumping systems, and Miami Beach is spending $100 million on a flood prevention project.

So much for Trump’s nonsense about climate change warnings being a Chinese hoax designed to hamper American industry.

He has pulled America out of the Paris Accord, which commits most of the world to reducing man-made pollution. He is hobbling the Environmental Protection Agency, revoking environmental protection regulations and slashing funding for environmental projects.

Now, Mother Nature is striking back, and Trump’s beloved resort is one of her targets.

Read the news item

More on rising sea levels


Best Island in the World?


I just read that some place in the Philippines has won the title of Best Island in the World. But you and I know what the best island in the world really is, don’t we?

Yeah man, it’s got to be Jamaica!

According to a news story I came across this morning,  Travel & Leisure Magazine gave the award to Palawan, which is in a chain of 1,780 islands in the Philippines. It’s the second triumphant year in a row for Palawan and the third victory since 2013.

So what does Palawan have that other islands don’t?

According to the news item:

The long, narrow Palawan island … is lined with sugar-white sand beaches and hidden coves… (and) is filled with species unique to the region, with over 200 bird species and 600 butterfly species.

Now, I haven’t counted the bird species in Jamaica. Or the various kinds of butterflies. But I recall seeing a lot of different birds and butterflies in my childhood – and they were all gorgeous.

And I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of Jamaica’s “sugar-white” beaches! We have miles upon miles of those – from Negril to Ocho Rios via Montego Bay. There are other beautiful beaches with non-white sand, too (for those of us who don’t judge a beach by its color.)

The news story points out that Palawan “contains the world’s largest navigable underground river, flowing five miles under a limestone cave out to sea, which visitors can tour by canoe.”

So they think Jamaica doesn’t have underground rivers? They’d better think again.  We have all kinds of rivers in Jamaica – more than 100. And several – Hector’s River and Cave River for example – run underground.

Exploring Jamaica’s underground rivers, you’ll discover a fantastic world  that has to be seen to be believed.  I bet Palawan doesn’t have anything like the Roaring River caves, for example!

And surely everyone has heard about the great rafting in Jamaica. When I was a toddler, my family lived in a house overlooking the Rio Grande in Portland, and I still see that view in my dreams.  Rafting on the Rio Grande should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Palawan also has coral reefs, tropical fish and “crystal-clear” waters. And mountains.

Come on! You want coral reefs? Tropical fish? Crystal-clear waters? You’ll find them abundantly in Jamaica. And, as for mountains and mountain views… don’t get me started!

The magazine’s award is based on a reader survey, and all I can say is the magazine’s readers must never have been to Jamaica. Not to the Jamaica I know, anyway.

(Photos show Jamaican scenes – from the top, the Caves Hotel & Spa in Negril, scuba diving in Montego Bay, rafting on the Rio Grande.)

Read the news story


Crime of the Century


The roar of outrage has subsided to a murmur as Americans get used to having Trump as their president.

I see little or nothing in today’s news about the various “investigations”  supposedly under way. No word from Robert Mueller. No word from all those committees in the House and the Senate.

It seems the crime of the century will go unpunished as it fades from public memory and the public consciousness.

Surely, there can no longer be any doubt that Trump and his minions conspired with Putin and his minions to subvert last November’s presidential election?

Surely, it’s obvious that Trump attempted to obstruct investigation of that conspiracy?

I don’t know what more evidence needs to be revealed. What can possibly be left for Mueller or the congressional committees to find out before they speak out?

We the people seem powerless. This first-world democracy has no previous experience with a third-world presidency,  In a third world country, the populace would be in the streets, the armed forces in revolt, the despot and his gang of thieves in flight.

But that kind of thing doesn’t happen in modern America.

Today’s Americans are not the same breed as the colonists who took arms against an oppressive king. Today’s Americans think of their own self interest above all. They worry about the rent and the groceries, not the ship of state.

Yes, there is a minority that still protests. There are even some folks who bluister and threaten.  But they, too, will eventually see the futility of their protest.

For Trump’s audacity has triumphed after all.

With a gerrymandered Republican Congress, he is above the law. He cannot be criminally charged. And he will not be impeached.

The nation is quietly adjusting to a new standard of ethics, one in which cheating is OK if you can get away with it, where dirty tricks are to be admired and taking advantage of another’s trust is the smart thing to do.


A Modest Proposal

Clearly, the most logical alternative to Obamacare is a program similar to Canada’s. But that’s “socialism,” and no Republican Congress would agree to anything like that. So I’m offering them a way to give the voters some health care help without antagonizing their benefactors or their base.

Nobody has ever accused George W. Bush of being a socialist. Yet when he was president, his Republican Congress gave seniors prescription help and Medicare Advantage.

I don’t know how I would have survived if they hadn’t done that.

As a diabetic with a bad heart and bad kidneys, high blood pressure and so on, I need a lot of medicines. And with the new plan, I get help paying for my prescriptions, in addition to the  doctor visits and hospital bills covered by original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage goes a little farther. With Medicare Advantage, a private insurer gets my Medicare money and provides a comprehensive health care plan

As a Republican program, Medicare Advantage couldn’t be simple. It had to be complex enough to bamboozle simple folks like me. But as I understand it, private insurers contract with the federal government to provide various plans and we seniors get to pick the plan we like best.

I wouldn’t expect a Republican Congress to approve a government-run health insurance program like Canada’s. It’s not in their DNA. But couldn’t they give the rest of the nation the same kind of deal they gave us seniors?

No it’s not perfect.  The insurance companies I choose keep going bankrupt, and the plans I choose sometimes get cancelled. But I manage to find a new company and a new plan each time.

Unfortunately,  the plans don’t cover everything. I owe Lakeland Regional Health Center a fair chunk of change after my recent visits there. But if I hadn’t had Medicare Advantage I would have been wiped out. According to the hospital, the total bill was nearly $50,000!

In Canada, I wouldn’t have had to worry about a thing. The government provides health care – free health care – for all. But this isn’t Canada. This is Florida, USA. And they don’t do things that way in these parts.

So how about it Republicans? Be heroes. Give the people a health insurance plan they can live with – Medicare Advantage for Americans of all ages.

That way, you give your health insurance buddies a chance to make a buck, and you give the masses a break on their health care expenses. It might buy you a lot of votes.

And it’s one way out of the mess you’re in now.

History of Medicare Advantage

How Medicare Advantage works

The way it is in Canada